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A baby monitor is an essential bit of kit for every nursery. They allow you to check in on your baby when you’re not with them, whether you’re downstairs in the kitchen cooking dinner or out of the house leaving them in the care of grandparents. But which one should you choose?
A traditional baby monitor, or a smart monitor: which is best?
There are a huge range of baby monitors on the market, from the most basic types that offer just audio to all-singing, all-dancing smart monitors that track everything from your baby’s breathing to their sleeping habits.
Anxious parents who often find themselves up all night worrying about their baby might want to opt for a smart monitor. Though these are typically pricey, costing hundreds of pounds, they offer real peace of mind, which can be very beneficial for worried parents who don’t want to constantly wake up and check on their baby.
These can monitor babies in a variety of ways: through socks, swaddles or clips, and will typically let you know how they’re doing via an app downloaded onto your phone. Many of these apps will have additional functions, such as allowing you to talk to your baby via two-way audio, letting you switch on lullabies or white noise, or even giving you sleep insights to help you get your baby snoozing through the night quicker.
What about a handheld baby monitor?
However, apps are not for everyone: many parents don’t want to be glued to their phone and would rather keep tabs on their baby with a separate handheld unit. These can be useful if you have several people looking after the baby, such as grandparents, nannies or babysitters, as you can just hand over the handheld unit rather than getting each person to download and access the app.
Other parents find that all the smart technology out there actually makes them more anxious, and prefer to just check in on their baby via video or audio.
What did we look at when testing?
We included a range of baby monitors across every budget. We included those for under £50 that do the job without all the bells and whistles, as well as those on the pricier end of the scale that have seemingly thought of everything a new parent could ever need to put their mind at ease. We tested out each baby monitor, rating them on how easy they were to set up and use, what functions they offered, how they looked and, most importantly, how they helped us as worried parents to keep an eye on our little ones.
Owlet Baby Monitor Duo
If you’re looking for a monitor that doesn’t just show you your baby sleeping soundly, but that also provides a fuller picture of how the little one is doing, the genius system from innovative brand Owlet is for you.
The Owlet Cam is an HD video baby monitor with impressively clear night vision, a room temperature sensor and two-way audio, while the Smart Sock tracks baby’s oxygen level and heart rate.
We were really impressed by how easy and intuitive both parts of the duo were to set up and use, and felt a real peace of mind knowing we would be alerted if any of the readings were outside the “safe zones”.
The app also allows you to track your baby’s sleep patterns: ideal when you’re trying to instil some sort of routine. It’s on the pricier end of the spectrum, but anxious parents can’t put a price on this level of peace of mind.
Nanit Plus Complete Monitoring System
Sleep and safety: two words that are constantly on the mind of every new parent. The complete monitoring system from American startup Nanit is an absolute game-changer that will bring a sense of calm and control to anxious parents, reassuring them about the baby’s safety and providing invaluable insights about the baby’s sleep.
We liked the sleek look of the monitor and found it simple to set up.
What we loved even more was how the brand seems to have thought of everything you could possibly need: two-way audio, white noise, a choice of wall mount or a freestanding floor stand, breathing wear to help you keep an eye on your baby’s breathing. All this, and a really fantastic sleep tracking function that not only helps exhausted parents get a handle on their child’s sleep patterns but also provides genuinely useful and tailored sleep tips to finally get them snoozing through the night.
We also loved the incredibly clear overhead HD picture and the fact you can turn the monitor on and off from your app. Expensive for sure, but they really have thought of everything - and you can’t put a price on sleeping through the night as soon as possible.
Bluebell Smart Baby Monitor
Parents who love wearable tech will be huge fans of the award-winning Bluebell Smart Baby Monitor, which not only monitors and tracks the health of your baby, but does the same for you too.
It works differently to the usual camera-based monitor: designed by doctors, the baby monitor clips onto the baby’s clothes and tracks everything from baby’s breathing and temperature to his or her sleeping position and crying, with helpful alerts letting parents know if your little one has rolled onto their tummy, has started crying or has stopped breathing.
The accompanying parent wristband helps you track your baby’s routine and gives you alerts when your baby needs you, but we also loved how it helps parents keep tabs on their own health too, with everything from sleep and mood tracking to step-counting.
It’s intuitive, clever and also has a fabulous battery life. In those first few sleep-deprived months and years, when many parents neglect their own wellbeing to focus on that of their baby, this monitor has come to the rescue to help keep the whole family healthy and happy.
Angelcare AC527 Baby Movement Monitor with Video
If you’re loathe to download yet another app onto your phone but still want the benefits of a smart monitor that can check on how your baby’s doing, consider the Angelcare AC527 Baby Movement Monitor with Video.
The reliable gadget not only includes one unit for the nursery and one for the parents to watch, but also includes a wireless movement sensor pad that will sound an alarm if no movement is detected after 20 seconds. We were impressed by the crystal clear display, two-way audio functionality, impressive night vision and digital zoom.
We also like the fact you can add a second movement sensor pad and nursery unit if you have twins or another baby, or want to monitor another room. A great option for closely monitoring your baby without adding yet another app to your phone.
Tommee Tippee Dreamee Sound, Motion and Video Baby Monitor
Another fantastic option if you’re anti-app is the Dreamee Sound, Motion and Video Baby Monitor from trusted baby brand Tommee Tippee.
The baby monitor comes with a 360-degree camera unit for the nursery and a high definition parent unit, and also includes a movement sensor pad that will alert parents if your baby has been still for a long time or if there are any sudden large movements.
We particularly like the CrySensor, which picks up on crying during nap times or in the middle of the night and plays soothing sounds, and the music functionality that allows you to play lullabies or even your own music to calm your little one down: the two-way audio also allows you to talk to your baby.
An excellent choice if you want peace of mind and your own parent unit without downloading an app.
Ezviz Indoor Camera
Many of us are upping the security and surveillance within our own homes, so if you’re seeking a monitor that’s affordable and that you can use for years to come, look no further than the Ezviz Indoor Camera.
The camera is small and unobtrusive and offers impressive night vision so is perfect for a baby’s room, while the two-way talk feature will appeal to parents who want to be able to talk to their babies while they’re in their cot.
It’s easy to set up and simple to use, is compatible with Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant and can be used elsewhere in the home for home security purposes once you no longer need a monitor for your kids. A real bargain that will last you years.